When we talk about in vitro fertilization we are referring to fertility that is taking place outside of the body at least partially, two of the main reasons why doctors use in vitro fertilization is because the woman’s tubes may be blocked or the man may have a very low sperm count. IVF involves the collection and harvesting of eggs which are mature enough to be fertilized by sperm that has been collected.
The first step is ovulation induction, fertility drugs are use to stimulate the ripening of the egg, it is usually done in order to capture multiple eggs as some of them may not be fertilized. Egg production and development is monitored through the use of ultrasounds and by using blood tests.
An ultrasound may be utilized to help guide a needle through the pelvic cavity in order to take out the eggs. This is the second stage, the patient will then be put under local anesthesia to make retrieving the eggs as painless as possible. This removal of eggs is reffered to as follicular aspiration. Some women may experience cramping once the eggs have been removed from the ovaries.
In the third stage of the process the male partner is asked to provide sperm, this is collected from the man’s ejaculate. In the fourth step which is known as insemination, both sperm and egg are placed in incubators. An incubator creates the perfect atmosphere for fertility to take place.
Sometimes if doctors sense that conception will be difficult then a single sperm is often isolated and it is used solely in the attempt at fertilization. The eggs are constantly monitored to make sure that cell are dividing and that fertilization is taking place. Once eggs become fertilized they are called embryos.
The fifth step is when the embryos are transferred to the uterus. This can occur from one day to one week later. The embryo is now a two or four cell embryo. A speculum is inserted into the vagina in order to get pass the cervix and into the uterus. A special number of embryos are then inserted in the uterus using a catheter. The process is painless for most women but there are exceptions and some women report mild discomfort. Finally, ultrasound and blood tests are done to see if implantation was a success and if a baby has been created.
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